Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1926-) Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Rome "La Sapienza," he is widely regarded as the father of postwar Italian sociology, occupying the first chair of sociology in an Italian university in 1961. He wrote his dissertation at Torino on Thorstein Veblen. Ferrarotti has held numerous visiting appointments, including the New School for Social Research, New York.

By criticizing Benedetto Croce's idealistic approach, which effectively reduced sociology to a pseudoscience, Ferrarotti restored its scientific status both in the academic field and in the wider cultural debate. In particular, he introduced the work of Thorstein Veblen, Max Weber (particularly his Sociology of Religion ), and Vilfredo Pareto into Italian sociology. Ferrarotti's theoretical approach to sociology combines the empirical observation of social reality with "ideal tension," that is, social and political commitment.

Ferrarotti's major works are devoted to workingclass movements, social marginality, power stratification and conflict, and the social dimensions of the sacred in contemporary society. Ferrarotti develops a theory of the sacred as a metautilitarian social dimension of reality in opposition to institutionalized religion. A number of his books have been translated into English, the most well-known of which in the scientific study of religion is Faith Without Dogma: The Place of Religion in Post Modern Societies (Transaction 1993). Since 1967, Ferrarotti has been the founding editor of La Critica sociologica .

Enzo Pace


F. Ferrarotti, Max Weber and the Destiny of Reason (Armonk, N.Y.: Sharpe, 1982)

F. Ferrarotti, Il paradosso del sacro (Rome: Laterza, 1983), excerpted as "The Paradox of the Sacred," International Journal of Sociology 14(1984)

F. Ferrarotti, A Theology for Non-believers (Millwood, N.Y.: Associated Faculty Press, 1985)

F. Ferrarotti, Max Weber and the Crisis of Western Civilization (Millwood, N.Y.: Associated Faculty Press, 1987).

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